Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians

On March 26th 2009, Darien Library in the States, hosted an event called “In the Foothills: A Not-Quite-Summit on the Future of Libraries” at which participants were instructed to “come prepared to help sketch out the role librarians should play in defining the future of libraries”. The two speakers, John Berry and Kathryn Greenhill, provoked a conversation among John Blyberg, Kathryn and Cindi Trainor that began in John's office the next day and spilled out across the ensuing week.

The conversation resulted in "The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians". Click here to view the resulting document (CC Licence). It’s meant to be grand, optimistic, obvious, and thankful to and for our users, communities, and the tireless librarians who work the front lines every day, upholding the purpose of the Library. Heres a sample:

"The Purpose of the Library

The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization.

The Library has a moral obligation to adhere to its purpose despite social, economic, environmental, or political influences. The purpose of the Library will never change.

The Library is infinite in its capacity to contain, connect and disseminate knowledge; librarians are human and ephemeral, therefore we must work together to ensure the Library’s permanence.

Individual libraries serve the mission of their parent institution or governing body, but the purpose of the Library overrides that mission when the two come into conflict.

Why we do things will not change, but how we do them will.

A clear understanding of the Library’s purpose, its role, and the role of librarians is essential to the preservation of the Library.

The Role of the Library

The Library:

  • Provides the opportunity for personal enlightenment.
  • Encourages the love of learning.
  • Empowers people to fulfill their civic duty.
  • Facilitates human connections.
  • Preserves and provides materials.
  • Expands capacity for creative expression.
  • Inspires and perpetuates hope. More>>

I believe this document will become core to discussions on the role of libraries for years to come. Congratulations and thank you to John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill and Cindi Trainor for articulating so eloquently why we do what we do.

NB. The photograph above of the three whizz kids is by Michael Porter, and about 90% of the text above is taken directly from John Blyberg's blog.

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